Just Be A Woman
On Sundays I find myself standing in front of my closet staring at all my clothes. “What should I wear?” I ask myself.
Nothing too revealing. Nothing too sexy. Nothing too beautiful. Not too much eyeliner. Not too much mascara. Not too tight. Not too short. Don’t do your hair. Don’t wear that low hanging necklace.
I pull things from my shelves, try them on, and then place them back on the racks, convinced that an exposed collarbone will send any man I meet straight to lustful thoughts. “Put that away!” I tell myself, as I button my shirt just one more button higher. And I hide it all. And it stays hidden.
It’s the never-ending argument of a single Christian woman: Am I beautiful? And is it a sin? Exhausted, I settle for some version of the same uniform. Jeans, Shirt, Sweater. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat a million times. Deviate only to wear a turtleneck.
Somewhere On The Inside
But somewhere on the inside of me is a neglected sexuality. And it’s not something we churchies talk about. “Hush Hush,” the Church will say, “you are a saint, not a woman.” ‘Shhhhhh’ issues forth as index fingers press upon gloss-less lips, “you are supposed to be humble and not concerned with earthly beauty.”
And to a degree it’s right. Right?
We shouldn’t take stock in our appearance. We shouldn’t weigh our character upon our flesh. Our inward beauty is what is eternal, what will last and the wellspring from which our external beauty should flow.
But still, fear has crept in with the Truth.
Somewhere along the way the devil got in with the Word.
I was taught that men can’t handle a woman’s beauty without it becoming a sin. They will be tempted by your body. They will be tempted by your smile. Cover up, you lustful object. You dirty, shameful girl. Keep your face clean. Keep your garments bland. Keep your expression mute, lest you cause your brother to stumble.
Women have become the keepers of the responsibility for men’s maturity and their faith and fate and hearts.
And it is screwing up our women.
This type of belief teaches men to fear us, that we are napalm. That we are firestarters. That we are sexual objects, and it reinforces cultural depravities like porn and adultery. Suppress your need for a woman’s companionship and body, you single godly men – you are above such things. “Protect her honor. Protect her heart.” That's the mantra I hear from the church, placing on men an unfair brotherly stereotype that I believe is entirely non-sustainable (unless they have the gift of singleness). It forces them to keep in darkness the thing God intended for good, and they stumble and end up with secret triple-x addictions in an attempt to protect their female friends.
This type of belief also teaches women to fear themselves, and loathe their own bodies. “You shouldn’t like dressing up, it’s not godly.” Yet God shows and tells us that we were made to be beautiful, to be adornments of righteousness and grace. You wonder why women have eating disorders and social anxieties around their bodies – it’s because we were told to be insecure about them. We were told we were responsible for man’s dilemma. Eve took the apple! Deceitful woman! But Adam ate it, too.
And now we’re stuck here. Single, and afraid of each other – trying to navigate the strange social waters of dating in a godly way.
To this I say Relax.
RELAX. It is going to be okay.
God is not afraid of your sins or your mistakes. He sees everything. He works all of it for the good.
We need to stop being so afraid of sinning, as though we will lose the grace freely given to us by Jesus.
Why don’t we try this instead, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Let’s simplify this dialogue. Men, be men. Women, be women. Legalism, be quiet. You’re messing everything up.
I humbly relinquish the belief that I damn my brother by being beautiful. And I humbly refute that my brother can only use me for my body, because he can’t control his desires.
Let’s trust each other a little more.
Let’s trust ourselves as well.
I will neither put myself on display, nor hide myself under a basket, but rather I will just walk and be a woman.